serialize entity foundation object using (circular reference error) c# entity-framework


I have an entity framework entity that i want to serialize as a json object. I looked around and found out that ( should be able to serialize objects with circular references "out of the box". So i tried using

string json = JsonConvert.SerializeObject(/* my ef entity */);

But im still getting the same error. The problem might be that i need to use ReferenceLoopHandling.Ignore and a ContractResolver, but im not sure how to use them. Any help is much appreciated! Thanks

11/2/2011 3:59:52 PM

Accepted Answer

My solution was to simply remove the parent reference on my child entities.

So in my model, I selected the relationship and changed the Parent reference to be Internal rather than Public.

May not be an ideal solution for all, but worked for me.

2/23/2012 12:06:08 PM

Popular Answer

To get around this I converted my Entities to POCO based Code First. To do this right click inside your edmx window and select:

Add code generation item > Code tab > EF POCO Entity Generator.

Note that you might need to install it with nuget if you don't see it.

At runtime however EF adds proxy classes to those objects for tracking purposes but they tend to mess up with the serialization process. To prevent this we can simply set ProxyCreationEnabled to false as follows:

var context = new YourEntities();
context.Configuration.ProxyCreationEnabled = false;

var results = context.YourEntity.Take(100).ToList();

You can then safely return JSON.NET serialized data by omitting the default reference looping as follows:

return JsonConvert.SerializeObject(results, Formatting.Indented, 
    new JsonSerializerSettings { 
        ReferenceLoopHandling = ReferenceLoopHandling.Ignore 

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